If migraine is the “third most common disease in the world”, then why is there still a stigma attached in the workplace? To support the Migraine Trust’s dedicated awareness week this September, we’re sharing their crucial advice and some hard-hitting stats for organisations to take on board.
An estimated 23%* of UK adults have experienced a migraine in their lifetime.
These painful headaches can be caused by anything from stress to lack of sleep, hunger to changing hormones – and often provoke disturbed vision, sensitivity to light and sound, and severe sickness and dizziness.
Migraine’s impact on workplace productivity
Now let’s be honest, migraines in the workplace are a massive headache. Skilled and passionate people who suffer from migraine can experience debilitating symptoms that make them unable to perform, while organisations can experience a drop in productivity as they lose their most valued assets to frequent and/or long-term migraine absenteeism.
And there’s proof in the numbers. As UK productivity levels, in particular, are low, a 2018 study by the Work Foundation found that each year an estimated 86 million workdays are lost in the UK due to migraine-related absenteeism and presenteeism, with the indirect costs of migraine due to lost productivity being estimated at just under £8.8 billion per annum!
The indirect costs of migraine due to lost productivity being estimated at just under £8.8 billion per annum!
But cold hard stats aside, how organisations deal with migraine in the workplace evidently needs to change to support the health and wellness of their workers. The stigma and sometimes lack of support that employees can experience often leaves them struggling through their workload, gradually getting worse before they eventually go home and are potentially absent for longer.
What’s worse, the Work Foundation also found in their study that migraine is the second largest cause of years lived with disability worldwide, so it’s really is no wonder that the Migraine Trust is campaigning for immediate action and migraine acceptance by organisations.
Time to take action
The Migraine Trust promote that a better understanding and accommodation of migraine within organisations would initially help to remove the workplace stigma, enabling employees to feel more confident in voicing their symptoms and so preventing more extreme eventualities.
The trust’s dedicated website is rich with advice for organisations, and – in association with their 2018 awareness week (2-8 September) – the trust has created a Help at Work guide for employees and are promoting a fantastic research paper by the Work Foundation entitled ‘Society’s Headache: the Socioeconomic Impact of Migraine’.
Team Hive couldn’t be more supportive of the Migraine Trust’s awareness initiatives and would urge organisations – including our customers – to consider potential causes or accelerators of migraine in their workplace.
Do you know who in your company sufferers from migraine? Are they experiencing high levels of stress due to lack of support? Do they work long hours due to a heavy workload? Is anyone struggling to perform due to loud or uncomfortable working environments?
By asking employees, accepting their responses and introducing measures that help employees prevent and manage migraine symptoms – an organisation can promote a happier, healthier and more productive workforce.
Be sure to check out the Migraine Trust’s dedicated website and Help at Work guide, and you can also support the campaign on social media by sharing their graphics with the hashtag #mindfulofmigraine.
Further reading and sources
Migraine Awareness Week – website and social media graphic downloads
*Stats included in this piece are taken from the Work Foundation’s recent research paper, ‘Society’s Headache: the Socioeconomic Impact of Migraine’